The Origin of Grudge

I hold grudges. I’m not sure when this began, but I do. I hold grudges. I don’t hold that many. And I’m not even sure I can justify the ones I do hold. But I hold them. I hold just enough to go without dropping them. They’re not heavy. They’re just there.

Years ago, I let relationship go rotten. I didn’t even know the person very well. First, they made me laugh. Over time, I realized that they were self-righteous, vindictive and catty. It’s not so much that they themselves were annoying but I definitely annoyed myself in relation to them. And when they confronted me and expected an explanation in return – something meaningful in return – I had to figure out if I had the time to waste their time pretending. After a few never-ending sighs, I, in so many words, told them I thought it might be best if we just parted ways.

The retaliation was insane. It wasn’t dropped as I’d hoped it’d have been. My asking to let it go turned into them wanting to fight—a fight I would eventually come to lose for any energy I once had for this person had leaked through a microscopic pinhole long before that hole was made visible to them. If our relationship was a balloon, I had watched it deflate, slowly, over time and I didn’t do much to stop it from happening. Looking back, I imagine that for this person my “break-up” seemed to come out of nowhere. I am willing to take the blame for that. I should have warned them prior it finally going limp. And so it was. By the end of the fight, I no longer DIDN’T care anymore. Instead, I was pissed. I grew to shake my head in disgust when their name came up. I grew to detest the memory of them. I grew to love the conflict and once the conflict finally came to an end, I think that I missed it.

So I held a grudge. And they became the symbol of such—the aftertaste left in my mouth.

One time, someone I knew quite well left me. We even lived together for a short while. Literally, over night, she decided that she no longer liked me. While I know she had her reasons, they were never spoken to me. And by the time someone else was ready share with me her reasons, I was no longer able to hear it. Sometimes, once the initial rejection, humiliation, and sadness is gone and you’re left with the black hole where deep feelings once existed, instead of knowledge setting you free it erects a nice little concrete room.

I was left with a grudge.

And then there was the person who told a group of people we both knew about the people she hated. One was a girl from her past. The other, she met in college. And I was that person. Of course, I heard about it. And of course it surprised me. How was it I had that much creativity to make someone hate me? What had I done to deserve this title? It bothered me—not knowing. But no reason was given to me by anyone, not her, not the others. Even I couldn’t even come up with a reason enough for her hate me especially one that warranted a public announcement. Usually, I have them readily available, like the little giveaways marketers hand out every morning at Grand Central.

I held onto that grudge as well. And I cursed myself for being one of the two people she hated. I hated that title she’d given me and thought that surely there would be others she hated more. I hated knowing that she hated me. I hated that I wasn’t at the table to hear it firsthand. I hated myself for whatever it was that made her publicly hate me.

Lately, what has perplexed me is WHY I hold onto these grudges. It’s been years. One might imagine I’d be able to move on and let go of them. I have spent hours trying to figure out why I still harbor these fugitives. Holding on to them can’t be very healthy. Knowing them as one might come to enjoy the feeling of eating chocolate can’t be good for a day. And I’m starting to think that the only person I’ve ever really had the grudge with was with myself.

The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure each of these fall-outs would have gone away instantly had there been a simple conversation or an apology offered. Whether it be from me, or them, one of us could have ended the festering and birth of a grudge had there been a simple hug and a couple of words. But instead, at least for women, we sit as the martyr, believing we deserved more, an explanation, a blow to the face, something. Being put in a corner and made to feel like last year’s toy can leave a lot of resentment. I’ve decided that the feeling of being “left-out” doesn’t go away after grade school or middle school, even. I think women continue to do this until there is no one left to leave out, no third person to humiliate. (Then again, maybe I just have residual waste left over from all the times it’d happened to me.)

For me, grudges speak a language of their own. They do not consist of anger, but can be born from it. They usually don’t hold a lot of sadness, regret, or hostility, either. Though they are often what remains after all have left. They’re bruises not often seen to the human eye. And I’d rather feel angry. I’d rather feel remorseful and sad because at least those feelings end. Instead, I sit here toying with a feeling that has several sharp edges to it. Secretly and shamefully, I must enjoy the feeling because I just can’t seem to put it down.

19 Comments

  1. I’m willing to make a bet that boys don’t hold as many grudges and if they do hold one at all it’s not for long. But I could be wrong. :] As usual.

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  2. What I’ve found with my guy friends – if we fight about something, I’m still holding a grudge waaaay later, and they don’t even remember having a disagreement. That makes me even more mad at them.

    I’m sometimes envious of boys in the way that they shrug off things, get over it and move on. (speaking in generalities of course) I try to do that, but sometimes it’s hard to lose that grudge. I think that’s why I have more guy friends than girl friends – it seems easier to be around them.

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  3. Boys are too busy – overwhelmed, actually – trying to figure out what the hell goes on in the heads of girls to hold grudges.

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  4. I don’t hold grudges as much as I decide whether or not that person can contribute anything positive to my life in the future.

    If I get really pissed at someone, its usually for good reason—and they’re far beyond the point of earning my trust again. So I don’t hold a grudge, I just decide that I’d rather have a life without them in it.

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  5. I have long since realized that holding grudges or resentments does nothing but hurt me. The other person couldn’t give a rat’s ass about it.
    It is the equivalent of picking up a stick and beating myself over the head with it, hoping that the other person will feel the pain.
    Recognizing that it only serves to get in my own way, it’s easier to let things go. If it’s someone who I feel is now not worth my time as a friend, then why are they worth taking up time in my head?
    I’m with Jon, they just end up no longer in my life and I don’t have to think about them any longer. I wasted far too much of my life being angry.
    Great post, Michele.

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  6. I’ve found that when I hold grudges, it’s usually to protect myself. I stay on guard so the other persons behavior can’t surprise me or hurt me. I just expect the worst and stay on guard. It’s not healthy but it’s sometimes necessary when a toxic person is around.

    I say banish said person from your life. Ignore them, they will go away. They’ll find someone else to harass. Or else I shall karate chop them.

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  7. here’s how i see it…..us guys are essentially lazy, you girls know that already. for a guy, it just takes too much energy to hold a grudge. it takes too much energy to try and make everyone happy(we can be rude/crude and cranky), it takes too much energy to have a bunch of friends( we have a few and we keep them forever), it takes too much energy to put up a facade of being happy when we’re not, it’s too much to act interested when it’s not interesting.

    i’m probably wrong on some counts, but this is me in a nutshell

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  8. I hold grudges without really wanting to do so and the reasons are probably unwarranted by most people’s standards (I guess I’m ultra sensitive). I just get this bad feeling in me and I can’t quite pinpoint why I don’t like being around certain people. It usually isn’t till I think long and hard about why I feel so uncomfortable that I remember something they might have done something that offended me or let me down and left me sort of “not trusting them” kind of feeling. Similar to Amanda, I think I do itout of protection for myself. but I would do anything in the world to have it just fall away if only I could control it.

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  9. Note to self: stop telling everyone you know what a big lameass you think Michele is. She will find out, hold a grudge, and one day, she will cut you.

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  10. I don’t think that being ‘on guard’ around someone out of self-protection is the same thing as holding a grudge at all, but maybe people have different definitions of what a grudge is?

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  11. I just meant that I feel on guard around some of the people I hold grudges against(from something they might have done or said to me in the past). Not all of the reasons I hold grudges have led me to terminate the friendship or whatever, leading me to feel on guard with them when they are around. Or maybe just when certain topics come up that are associated with why I hold a grudge against them. I’m at work so I hope this all makes sense.

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  12. Nico, i will cut you. Not really. I like you.
    I just got back from a company picnic—grudge free.

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  13. wow. great post mihow. this is totally random but i have one now that im sure is buggimg me way more than the intended victim. even though she knows she sucks. i guess im trying to follow jon’s style of grudging but im finding it really hard. you have just made me think about something i have been avoiding for ages. thanks. oh hows your pits? still burnt? dont worry, i really know how to spell that word, i just like ‘burnt’ better.

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  14. The fact that we think we’d rather have a life without them means something is there, something has been left behind. It might not be strong, but I think it’s a grudge nonetheless.. Otherwise, it’d just be gone—just like that. No?

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  15. re: mihow (Thursday, July 28, 05:19:06 PM)

    I don’t think that necessarily means there’s a grudge. You can let go and not hate the person, but just realize that too much has happened for you overcome to get anything good out of any possible relationship – ie issues with trust, reliability. It just becomes not worth it.

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  16. I’m all about grudges, though Ilike to think of it as being an elephant and elephants never forget. ever.

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  17. i kind of agree with that, mihow. all i know is people that can just cut people out of their lives scare me but i know im guilty of it, on the most basic level. and i scare myself too. rawrr. but if i really held grudges, well, i never would have met you and the tj.
    im not saying its gone or anything. theres always a little residue, especially when you reunite and never sort of hash things out. but some people consider that to be reliving the past. and they just have no time for it. even though, now that im older, i dont like letting things fester like that. you have to ponder your first statement over and over: ‘life without them.’

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  18. Grudges are something I’ve lately had to learn more about and assess in myself. My short term boyfriend broke off with me recently. He still acts like he likes me at times and will talk if he runs into me somewhere, can’t pull himself away actually, if he’s alone, but he’s very distant, it’s almost like he’s sending signals that he likes me but then he disses me and doestn’ call me. I have no clue why he quit us, but it was virtually OVER night……Weird….never would tell me. I was his first ever girlfriend and I know he still talks about me to his friends and family (in a good way it seems)He’s not really rude or anything just distant….

    IS IT A GRUDGE??? I know his guy friends liked me a lot and I talked and cut up with them often but they were always around.

    Should i apologize and say "for whatever I might have done? I'd like him not to be hurt or anything and get past a grudge if that's it.click me

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  19. I am experiencing a very similar problem, only worse and more hopeless, so really don’t know what to tell you. This person became extremely mad at me for having responding very negatively to something THEY did that was very hurtful to me. They turned the whole thing around very cleverly and now won’t have anything to do with me at all. Maybe it was just their way of getting rid of me. I feel as if I am now the rejected one, or a terrible person, for what THEY did. I don’t really know what I did wrong to deserve this, except to express my angry feelings in what (I thought) was a constructive way. It backfired on me and they cut me off completely. People are hard to understand. I’d like to have this person back in my life in some way, at least as a friend, but I think they just decided to let go forever and ever. It hurts. Especially since they did the wrong thing, not me, but I am the one who feels as if I should apologize and they feel no need for that at all. A grudge, I guess, is a lack of an ability to feel forgiveness, or it can even be a defense mechanism or a way to control. Funny thing is, now that I got the anger fully out of my system, I am no longer even angry with them. I am even beating myself up for having become (very deservedly) upset with this person who I now feel I’ve lost forever. I feel like a criminal. Any feedback?

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